Superintendent Christina Kishimoto Refuses to Follow State Law and District Policy

Remember the *Good Old Days* in Gilbert Public Schools when decisions were made with smoke and mirrors? That was so innocent compared to what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto is doing as she bludgeons the citizens of Gilbert, Arizona, all the while making things up as she goes along. It’s all about her quest for her *national reputation.*  She’s had a lot of practice, you know.

Just one month ago, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto discussed procedures and district policies that apply to the proposed options for closing a GPS junior high school so that Gilbert Classical Academy can take over the campus.

Listen to Christina Kishimoto *eloquently* explain how GPS and the board will work their way through the process of choosing which junior high school campus to close for the benefit of the privileged students of Gilbert  Classical Academy:

Transcript from January 26, 2016 Governing Board meeting:

Christina Kishimoto: “The intention now is based on the board’s decision tonight to pare these options from 16 down … down to a certain number of, of options that we do want to pursue is to have a community forum with all of the community groups that are impacted by the potential final option, oh, by the final options and to answer questions related to those options and to get that input and get a report back to the board about that input. And then there is the policy that you have in place, board policy JC and JC-R, which relate to the timeline and process we would use, so we need to give ten days notification to the community about the forum and then we need to allow for 30 days [fumbling for words] for the board to look at that feedback and to make a final decision … by the board.  So sometime between, sometime in the month ultimately of March is when a final decision can be executed in light of what the policy demands in terms of further vetting of, of this. We also need to make sure that if there are impacts on boundary changes that then we also have a notification process in terms of this.”

Quoting Arizona Revised Statutes 15-341 Paragraph A 33: [The Governing Board shall] Provide written notice to the parents or guardians of all students affected in the school district at least ten days prior to a public meeting to discuss closing a school within the school district. The notice shall include the reasons for the proposed closure and the time and place of the meeting. The governing board shall fix a time for a public meeting on the proposed closure no less than ten days before voting in a public meeting to close the school. The school district governing board shall give notice of the time and place of the meeting. At the time and place designated in the notice, the school district governing board shall hear reasons for or against closing the school.

It seems that following the requirements of Arizona law and GPS policies somehow got in Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s way. The result?

Item 7.03 on the agenda for the board meeting on February 23, 2016, which calls for suspending Governing Board Regulation JC-R. You know that the the GPS governing board is going to give the superintendent what she wants, without even pretending to consider the input of the public, when the vote to close a school happens at the end of March 2016.  There’s been too much backlash already.

Here’s what Superintendent Christina Kishimoto claims is the very important reason that she doesn’t want to give written notice that Arizona law requires:

I have also received feedback from the State that our Board policy JC and JC-R do not align with statutory language, and thus they suggest that we update our policy with the direct statutory language. I spoke with Board President Tram and have added this policy and regulation to the February 16th Board Policy Committee for discussion. In addition, JC-R, sets internal procedures that are not financially viable. We received feedback that the reference to providing notice in writing, is not typical because the cost of written notice or paper notice will run us hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are required to provide public notice not written notice.

It appears that doing what lawyers and state Department of Education folks say is necessary (updating the policy) would take too much time. It seems to be interfering with Christina Kishimoto’s  personal schedule for burnishing her *national reputation* before she gets booted from another school district superintendency. Based on her track record in Hartford, Connecticut, she must believe she doesn’t have much time left in Gilbert, Arizona. It’s most likely due to that *reform* thing and school design mantra Kishimoto is cramming down the throat of GPS, already an A-rated school district.

This scenario is very much like what Christina Kishimoto engineered in Hartford two years ago. It did not end well for the parents or the students who were sacrificed on the school reformers’ altar of *choice.* They’re still bitter in Hartford, where they describe the school district that Christina Kishimoto left in total disarray this way:

“… an organization with little appetite or capacity for real community engagement, as well as a very top-down and opaque method of dealing with parents and community stakeholders,” stated the board, which often faulted the administration under former Superintendent Christina Kishimoto.

Back to Arizona Revised Statutes 15-341 Paragraph A 33: [The Governing Board shall] Provide written notice to the parents or guardians of all students affected in the school district at least ten days prior to a public meeting to discuss closing a school within the school district. Chica, do you really think a judge will believe that “repurposing” a school is not the same as “closing” it? Too bad for you that the word “closing” appears time and again in your own documents about your strategic plans.

Complicating the issue is the fact that GPS already blew through the statutory requirements for notice to the public.  The three day weekend holiday meant that no one was watching the calendar to be sure that there was ten days notice to the public. When notice was finally posted on the GPS website some time after normal business hours on February 16, 2016, GPS admins had already missed the ten day requirement for a public meeting scheduled for February 24, 2016. Another bad fact for GPS: at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2016, the only notice posted in the infamous glass box at the entrance to the district offices was for the Policy Committee meeting that was held the day before. Tsk tsk – you got nailed again, incompetent GPS administrators.

If experience is any guide, you know Christina Kishimoto and GPS will lie. And lie some more. They’re caught, so they’ll do what they usually do. Kishimoto’s Three Votes on the board just want the whole thing over and done. You know they never intended this *process* to do anything but put some lipstick on this pig of a project to elevate Gilbert Classical Academy above all else. Remember when GPS accidentally let the cat out of the bag with evidence of the treachery of the GPS superintendency and a board member?

Expect the worst, then you’ll never be disappointed with Gilbert Public Schools. Expect the board to suspend the policy on a 3-2 vote. Expect Superintendent Christina Kishimoto to do her end-zone celebration fist pumping when the voting is done. Sheeesh.

*** Excerpt of the Inconvenient GPS Policy to be Suspended ***

JC-R


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